Devotional Text and Meditation for the Day
Our devotional verse for today (19:23) makes very clear what the Bible says throughout, that the fear of the Lord is foundational to a life that brings complete satisfaction—one that pleases and praises God! After looking at all the Scriptures on the fear of the Lord in both the Old and New Testaments, one can rightfully define this godly fear as a reverential awe for God mixed with a holy dread of God that always leads to humble adoration, faithful worship, and submissive obedience to God! In simple terms, the fear of the Lord is one’s right response to a right understanding of God’s holy and almighty character in the face of man’s unholy life. The fear of the Lord is the overall primary theme of the book of Proverbs. The fear of the Lord is referenced at least 19 times throughout 31 chapters. Proverbs begins with the fear of the Lord in 1:7 declaring how the fear of the Lord is the doorway to wisdom, and Proverbs ends with the fear of the Lord in 31:30 which vividly displays the blessings and wisdom that flow from a life that fears God. You can rightfully say that the book (that has as its purpose teaching about how to live your life so that you please and praise God) declares emphatically that the answer is to live in the fear of the Lord!
Here in verse 23, the writer makes it clear that the fear of the Lord was designed by God to be the focus or essence of life. The first part of this verse is not saying that life comes as a result of fearing God, though that is true (14:27 cf. Jerm 32:40). The point here is that God designed all of life to be an overflow of reverential awe for Him. This point becomes lucid as you consider how the word “leads” is not in the Hebrew text but has been supplied by translators to help smooth out the wording. Furthermore, in the next line of the Proverb, it is clear that the one who has “it”, the fear of the Lord, is the one who “rests satisfied.” Thus, God designed life to be lived in complete reverential response to Him and in full adoration for Him, and those who live that way find peace, meaning a “satisfying life” (3:24; Ps 3:3,5; 4:8; 25:12-13; 91:1). Sadly, living in this holy fear of God is antithetical to our natural tendency (3:5-8 cf. 28:26), and the passion of our world which is bent on living in the unholy fear of man (29:25). Living in the fear of man is one of our greatest snares perpetually set before all of us and stands at the core of why our culture finds itself stumbling through life utterly dissatisfied (Jn 12:42-43).
Notice how the last line in this synthetic parallelism of a proverb speaks about how the person who lives in the fear of God will not be visited by harm. Some might read this and think some sort of prosperity gospel or name it and claim it theology is being taught here, but that is not what the writer is saying, especially as you remember the Theocratic kingdom context of Proverbs! The point to not miss here is that the person who lives in the fear of God has Yahweh as His constant guard and faithful shield (Prov 12:21; 14:26; 18:10 cf. Ps 91:10) no matter what assaults his life. That is the truth that brings calm and comfort in any crisis (Rom 8:31-39)! More specifically to this Proverb, living in the fear of God changes the whole direction of one’s life and the choices he makes thus protecting him from walking in dangerous places (3:7, 16:16), making disastrous decisions (8:13; 14:27), and partnering with deceptive and deadly people (24:21;29:25). To put it plainly, the fear of the Lord is the greatest protection against entering perilous situations and making poor choices! Do you live your life in the holy fear of God? To help you focus on that thought today, think about and answer these questions throughout the day. 1.) How does God’s character drive and determine your conduct? 2.) What does it mean and how does it change your life that God sees and knows everything you say, think and do? 3.) You will one day stand before God and give an account for your life. How is that truth encouraging, convicting you, and protecting you today? 4.) Knowing that Christ has provided all that God has demanded in His perfect law does what for living in the fear of Lord today?